Before this exercise, I had no idea what the term “exclusionary zoning” meant. So the very first thing I decided do, in order to get a quick idea of what it was, was to do what any other “technology kid” would do: I did a Google search. A quick search for “exclusionary zoning definition” lead me to Wikipedia and gave me the following definition:
“Exclusionary zoning is a term that, in the United States, has come to be applied to local zoning measures that impose costs or requirements that exclude certain uses.
Before the 1960’s, these measures were generally seen as a means to maintain or improve living conditions, community, open space, aesthetics, etc. It wasn’t until relatively recently that courts turned away from local interests to regional impact on housing holding exclusionary zoning to be unlawful in certain circumstances.”
But, after reading this I was still uncertain. As I continued looking through some of the search results, I found the following:
- “Zoning laws of a community that would serve to prohibit low- and moderate-income housing; considered illegal. Example: Ocean Park adopted a zoning ordinance that required a housing density of not more than four homes per acre. This exclusionaryzoning would prevent apartments and condominiums from being built and was being challenged by a low-income housing developer.” (http://www.answers.com/topic/exclusionary-zoning)
- “Exclusionary zoning is a zoning that, excludes a specific class of people or type of business from a district.” (http://definitions.uslegal.com/e/exclusionary-zoning/)
This is when I realized that “exclusionary zoning” was simply a practice of applying building restrictions to areas in a way that would cause a group of people or establishments to be unable to take part in, or to be excluded from, particular areas. Moreover, exclusionary zoning includes specific kinds of policies that state how certain land and areas may be utilized. The Kirwan Institute report from November 2009 discusses how neighborhood conditions of a specific area can affect the opportunities that are available for those who are living there. Such neighborhood conditions may include land use policies such as exclusionary zoning.
Robert Whitten’s “West Hartford Zoning: Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford” from 1924, discusses the meaning of zoning in pages 6-13. Specifically, he states a long definition on page 8:
Mr. Whitten further explains that zoning regulations may call for different types of districts in a specific location. For example, in 1924 West Hartford contained residential, business, and industrial districts. (See below for a self-made, sample visual of what this kind of zoning looks like.) At first glance, these these zoning regulations may seem unharmful. But, over the years they have proven to be troublesome for specific racial groups. The Kirwan Institute report sheds light on the negative affects of different types of zoning, including exclusionary. This includes the maintaining of segregation that was first caused by housing barriers, such as redlining and racial steering, in particular housing areas.
Since research has noted a correlation between zoning, both exclusionary and inclusionary, and negative effects on residents, some states (like Connecticut) have used legislation to help lower the effects of zoning processes. For example, as the Kirwan Institute report states, Connecticut has an Affordable Housing Appeals Statue. But even though statues like this may be in place, zoning affects job availability as well as housing affordability. Thus, zoning impacts racial groups, their housing, and their opportunities.
Reece, Jason et al. People, Place and Opportunity: Mapping Communitites of Opportunity in Connecticut. Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2009. Web. 18 Sept. 2012.
Whitten, Robert Harvey. West Hartford Zoning. Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford,. West Hartford, CT: Zoning Commission, 1924. Print.
Added on 09/19/12